Sony Pictures claims 'Nork mega-hack attack' cost it just $15 million

Chump change, studio says

The financial cost of the hacking attack that plagued Sony Pictures Entertainment last year was just a drop in the bucket compared to the movie studio's revenues for the quarter, the Japanese giant has said.

In its third-quarter earnings forecast for the three months ending on December 31, Sony pegged the price of the security breach at just ¥1.8bn ($15.3m) in "investigation and remediation costs." Sony Pictures' total sales for the quarter, on the other hand, topped out at ¥197.6bn ($1.69bn).

Not that the division had a particularly good quarter. Its sales were down 11.7 per cent from the same period a year ago.

But that had nothing to do with any alleged interference by North Korea, Sony said. Rather, there were simply fewer major home entertainment releases this quarter than there were a year ago. Plus, last year's quarter saw an unusual spike in sales due to home video and video-on-demand sales of the TV series Breaking Bad.

Sony did delay this quarter's earnings report, though, allegedly due to the impact of the attack on its financial systems, which had to be taken offline in response to the breach.

Still, it has maintained throughout that it did not see the hacking incident causing a "material upheaval" in Sony Pictures' business operations.

But some analysts have been skeptical of Sony's claims, saying it's impossible to assess the full cost of the attack yet, particularly when it comes to the impact that public perception of the security breach might have on future business negotiations.

US authorities, meanwhile, insist, quite bizarrely, that the attack was an organized operation by the government of North Korea, allegedly in retaliation for the Nork-baiting James Franco and Seth Rogan vehicle The Interview.

Lawmakers and the Obama administration have used the incident to stump for greater powers to battle online threats, and even UK Prime Minister David Cameron has gotten in on the act with a misguided (and largely ignored) campaign to limit online encryption. ®

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